Study Guide

All's Well That Ends Well Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By William Shakespeare

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Shadow of Confusion

Bertram can't see why he should have to marry Helen.

According to Booker, "in the first stage we see a little world in which people have passed under a shadow of confusion, uncertainty and frustration, and are shut off from one another." That sounds about right to us. Helen wants to be with Bertram but he's just a little "confused" about why he should have to marry her. He completely shuts her out of his life by withholding sex and running away.

Pressure of Darkness

Bertram is in hot water.

Booker says that in the second stage of a comedy, "the confusion gets worse until the pressure of darkness is at its most acute and everyone is in a nightmarish tangle." Yep, that's pretty much what happens when Bertram is tricked into sleeping with Helen (he thinks he's getting it on with a girl named Diana). When a rumor circulates that Helen is dead, Bertram is accused of murder.

Everything Comes to Light

Bertram has a change of heart.

"Finally," says Booker, "with the coming to light of things not previously recognized, perceptions are dramatically changed. The shadows are dispelled, the situation is miraculously transformed and the little world is brought together in a state of joyful union." In All's Well, Helen reveals her identity as the woman Bertram has recently slept with. She even comes with evidence: Bertram's ring and his baby growing inside her. Finally, Bertram agrees to be the husband she's always dreamed of.

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